Midtown cottages give a nod to urban living in Sumner

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By Shawn Skager-The Courier Herald

When Sumner-based builder and developer Pat Shamblin originally decided to develop a half-acre lot in the 1700 block of Langdon Street in Sumner, he envisioned something very different from the six 1,150-square-feet homes that are nearing completion on the site.

“Originally Pat was going to put two ramblers on the site,” realtor Tory Mayfield said, as workers scurried about putting the finishing touches on the Midtown Cottage development.

In the mid-90s however, Sumner city officials approached Shamblin and asked him to consider something new to the area - medium density multi-family housing.

According Sumner’s chief planner Ryan Windish, it’s a designation put in place when Sumner reworked the comprehensive plan in the mid-90s.

Windish added that the city actually went to the developer and suggested the idea.

“We were excited about the concept of cottages on the parcel,” Windish said.

Although for some the idea may be new, especially to Sumner, the cottage concept - smaller houses, often sharing courtyards and driveways - is not new to the region.

“If you look around the region you see different types of cottage developments,” Windish said. “I think that Shoreline and Redmond were some of the first. It provides a lot of things to the community.”

Mayfield said, “It’s very new to suburban areas, but more prominent in urban areas. I think it will be very well received.”

According to Mayfield the six three-bedroom houses will be priced beginning at $279,000.

In order to attract buyers, Mayfield said great care was put into the building materials and design of the houses.

“One thing about Pat is that he is a great builder,” Mayfield said.

In addition to hardwood floors on the first story and tiled counters, Mayfield said that all appliances will be included - featuring stainless steel in the kitchen and stacked washer/dryer combo on the second story. In addition, to entice buyers, a flat panel television will be included.

“I think the demographic will be for first time home buyers,” Mayfield said.

Windish agreed, adding that the cottage concept is typically owner-occupied, often geared towards first time homeowners or seniors looking to downsize.

“The market has been moving towards the demographic of more seniors, or couples as well as people looking for starter houses,” he said. “This is the kind of product that fulfills the need.”

Windish added the development also helps to build a community feel because of the close proximity of the houses, and the shared space of the courtyard.

“Cottage housing is something new to the town in some respects. But the old downtown, if you look closely, has a pattern of smaller homes on smaller lots. So it’s not out of character for Sumner.”

The only complaint, on the part of the city is that the scale of the houses, a full two-stories, is bigger than envisioned.

“The scale of the Langdon cottages is maybe bigger than we had imagined,” he added. “They are maybe a larger home than ideal. We were looking for more of a story and a half, which is more ideal than the Langdon cottages. But we’re updating and working on our guidelines.”

Windish compared the ideal to the craftsman bungalows common to the North End of Tacoma.

According to Mayfield, he expects the houses to be popular.

In addition to the quality of construction and amenities, such as appliances, he thinks the area will be the biggest draw, pointing out that the Sounder Station, Sumner’s downtown core and the Fred Meyer plaza are all within walking distance.

“Here you might actually get something special,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield will host an open house at the Midtown Cottages from 1 to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday beginning Saturday. The open house is located at 1721 Langdon St.

Reach Shawn Skager at or 253-862-7719 ext. 208.

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